Of all the read-alouds I’ve shared with my children, the Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, has, by far, been our very favorite. Reading it with my children has inspired us to try to live more simply and to truly be content with the abundant blessings we have. Additionally, this series has brought history to life for us in a way no other book has. How many history textbooks can boast of motivating children to want to learn how to churn butter, make molasses candy, and create corn husk dolls for siblings?
Watching my children in the yard trying to re-enact the stories we read gave me the idea of writing a unit study based off of this set. Besides integrating some of our very favorite Little House activities into this study, I also included informational tidbits about the Ingalls family that contextualizes this period of history.
This unit was written to easily cover a 4-6 week period, but, as always, feel free to tweak it a bit to fit your needs.I hope you enjoy it!
Little House/Pioneer Life:
– Any book from the Little House on the Prairie series- Laura Ingalls Wilder
– Little House Christmas Treasury– Laura Ingalls Wilder
– Laura Ingalls Wilder- A Biography– William Anderson
– Laura Ingalls Wilder- Growing Up in the Little House– Patricia Reilly Giff
– Pioneer Girl- The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder– William Anderson
– The World of Little House– Carolyn Strom Collins- (If there is any one book I recommend the most in this unit, it is this one. There is a treasure trove of projects in it, and I refer to it in quite a few activities. This is well worth a search in the library.)
– Laura Ingalls Wilder– Alexandra Wallner
– Don’t Know Much About- The Pioneers– Kenneth C. Davis
– Washday– Eve Bunting
– Who Pooped in the Park?– Gary D. Robson- (I know the title sounds questionable, but it really is a fun way to teach kids about tracking animals in the woods.)
– Disney’s “Little House on the Prairie” miniseries– available on DVD
homestead pioneer mosquito
celebration prairie canvas
fertilizer churn apprenticeship
farm medicine manufacture
cabin frontier journey
wagon countryside fairgrounds
dugout territory integrity
1. Use any of the Little House books as a family read aloud. (Literature, History, Social Studies)
2. Look up the years the members of the Ingalls and Wilder families were born and died. Use these to create math problems. (Ex. How old was Laura when she was married? When she died? How much older was Almanzo than Laura?) (Math, History)
3. Use the vocabulary words to practice good penmanship. (Language Arts)
4. Read a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Prepare an oral report to share. (Language Arts, History)
5. Start keeping a journal of favorite childhood memories. (Language Arts, Social Studies)
6. Research the Osage Native American tribe. (History)
7. Watch a video of a grasshopper swarm. (We found some on YouTube.com) Compare to the locust swarm in the biblical plague. (Science, History, Bible)
8. Locusts are related to grasshoppers. Write a report comparing and contrasting the two. Use visual aids. (Science, Language Arts)
9. Why are insect swarms so devastating? Research their effect on crops and the economic fallout. (Science, Social Studies)
10. Mary Ingalls became very ill and went blind. Write about the causes of blindness. (Science, Language Arts, Health)
11. Take turns wearing a blindfold and attempting to navigate around the house. How difficult was this? (Critical Thinking)
12. Plot the locations of all of the places Laura lived in her lifetime on a map. (Geography)
13. Trace the path used by the Ingalls family when they first set out from Wisconsin. Continue on to each state they settled in. (Geography)
14. Write a list of your daily chores, then read about the responsibilities of pioneer children. Are there differences? What are they? (Language Arts, Social Studies, History, Character)
15. Pretend to live on the frontier. “Churn” butter, “mend” clothes and shoes, and wash the laundry by hand. Use extra pieces of wood to build a play-size cabin in the yard. Ask Dad to help with this. (Social Studies, Life Skills, History, Critical Thinking)
16. Doing laundry was much different in Laura’s time. Read Washday by Eve Bunting. (Literature, History)
17. Pa spent most of the winter hunting. Study animal tracks. Who Pooped in the Park is an excellent resource for this. (Science)
18. Take a walk through a wooded area. Try to find and identify animal tracks. (Field Trip, Science, Physical Education)
19. The Big Woods were located in Wisconsin. What animals are indigenous to that state? (Science, Geography)
20. Write a report on one of the animals from Wisconsin. (Language Arts, Science, Geography)
21. Pa traded furs for supplies. This is called bartering. Set up a bartering system of your own. (History, Social Studies, Math)
22. Listen to fiddle recordings of “Pop! Goes the Weasel” and “Auld Lang Syne.” (Music)
23. Learn to play the above songs on the instrument of your choice. (Music)
24. Pioneer women often made their own medicine from roots and herbs. Research teh medicinal qualities of various plants. Isn’t it amazing how God has put everything we need here on Earth? (Science)
25. Aunt Eliza brought Ma a clove apple as a gift. Make one by pushing the sharp ends of whole cloves into an apple. Cover the whole apple with cloves. This is an excellent air freshener and a novel gift idea. (Art)
26. Make Molasses-on-Snow Candy. Recipes can be found online and on page 22 of The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins. (Life Skills, Math)
27. Molasses was an important staple in pioneer times. It was used to make candy, as a main ingredient in many recipes, and to make brown sugar, which was much more easily accessible than white sugar. Research how pioneers got their molasses. (History)
28. The Ingalls family moved from Wisconsin to Kansas. Measure the distance on a map and estimate how long it would have taken them to travel there by wagon. (Geography, Math)
29. The Ingalls were struck with “fever ‘n’ ague.” (malaria) What are the symptoms, how is this transmitted, and how can it be cured? (Science, Health)
30. Pioneers would sometimes oil the canvas covers of their wagons to make them water-repellent. Find a piece of canvas (we used an old tennis shoe), rub it with oil, then sprinkle it with water. What happened? Why? (Science, Critical Thinking)
31. Horses were used for many things on the prairie, including pulling the wagon and working the farm. Research horses and what sort of care they require. (Science)
32. Go for a horse ride. (Physical Education, Field Trip)
33. Laura and Mary loved to make paper dolls. Make some of your own. This is a great gift idea for little ones. (Art)
34. Play “Hide the Thimble.” One player hides a thimble or another small object while the other players close their eyes and count to 10. The players then open their eyes and look for the thimble while the hider counts to 50. The first person to find the thimble hides it next. If no one finds it in time, the same person hides it in a new place. (Math, Physical Education)
35. As a variation to Hide the Thimble, the hider can give clues to where the thimble is by giving cardinal directions to direct the other players to it. (Geography)
36. Make nine-patch quilt squares. Instructions can be found on pages 34-35 in The World of Little House. (Art, Life Skills)
37. Mary and Laura received heart-shaped cakes in their stockings one Christmas. Make some of your own. The recipe can be found on pages 36-37 in The World of Little House. These make delicious tea cakes. (Life Skills, Math)
38. Almanzo’s family visited the county fair every fall. Plan to visit one near you. Observe the various contests there, or enter one yourself! (Field Trip, Social Studies)
39. Almanzo’s favorite food was apples ‘n’ onions. Make some of your own. A recipe can be found on page 46 in The World of Little House. (Life Skills, Math)
40. Churns were used to make butter in this time period.An easy way to make homemade butter without a churn can be found on page 47 in The World of Little House. (Life Skills, Math)
41. Bake some homemade bread from scratch to spread your homemade butter on. (Life Skills, Math)
42. Almanzo and his siblings made pulled molasses candy once while their parents were away. This recipe can be found on pages 48-49 in The World of Little House. (Life Skills, Math)
43. Make a “Little House Christmas Tree.” Use a small tree with bare branches, and decorate it with popcorn strings and tissue paper. Hang small gifts and bags of candy covered with netting on the branches. (Art, Social Studies, History)
44. Laura and Carrie made thimble pictures on the frosty windowpanes during a four-day blizzard. Using a thimble or bottle cap, press it into the frost on a window (or some powdered sugar if there is no frost) to make designs. (Art)
45. A railroad was built across the Great Plains when the Ingalls family moved to Dakota Territory. Learn about the history of the railroad. (History)
46. Play “choo-choo train.” The person in front is the conductor and leads the boxcars (the other children) wherever he/she chooses to go. Take turns being the conductor. (Physical Education)
47. At 14, Laura got a job at Clancy’s making shirts. If she worked six days a week for six weeks and earned $.25 a day, how much money did she make? (Math)
48. Find a pattern to make a shirt by hand and make one as a gift for someone you love. (Life Skills, Character, Math)
49. Spelling bees were a popular Friday night community event. Pa won the very first spelling bee in De Smet. Have a spelling bee using the words from the vocabulary list or random selections from a dictionary. (This was a hit with our children. Our 15-yr.-old son even asked if he could do it, too!) (Language Arts)
50. At 16, Laura became a school teacher. How did school of this time period differ from public schools today? What similarities did it share with homeschooling? Play “school” and take turns being the teacher. (Social Studies, History, Critical Thinking)
51. When Laura and Almanzo’s daughter Rose was one-year-old, they (Laura and Almanzo) became ill with diphtheria. Write a report on this condition. (Language Arts, Science)
52. Watch the Disney “Little House on the Prairie” miniseries as a family. Our children found it to be delightful. (History, Social Studies)
Linking up with:
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28 thoughts on “Free Little House Unit Study”
What a wealth of information! Thanks so much for sharing.
Thanks! We had so much fun doing it.
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Thanks so much for putting together this great packet! We just finished listening to the Little House series on CD. Our blogging community would be blessed if you shared this at the Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup. #LMMLinkup http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1018
Thanks so much for the invite. I linked up!
This is really great! We love the Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods! #MMBH
Thanks so much. We absolutely love the Little House series, too!
Wow! What a great collection of resources! I wish I’d had this when I planned our homeschool group’s book club on Little House on the Prairie. I think our favorite activities we did for the book club were making butter in canning jars and finding beads scattered on the ground (pretending we were at the Indian camp like Mary and Laura). Thanks for sharing all these great ideas!
We made the butter, too! I was iffy about trying it at first, but it was really good! Thanks for visiting. 🙂
Hi, thank you for linking up with us at the Literacy Musing Mondays linkup. I will pass this lesson plan on to my sister. She homeschools her daugher.
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Great! I hope she enjoys it!
This is such a great idea. I love how you bring a classic to life.
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Thank you. We had so much fun with it!
Wow, this is fantastic and so thorough! I’m hoping to reread the Little House series this summer with my children. #practicalmondays
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Thank you!We love that series. We could read it again and again. We had so much fun doing this unit study.
Hey Shelly, thanks for linking up at the #FridayPrintables link up. Hope to see you next week! This was great.
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Thanks for hosting, Jen. I appreciate it!